Look Who's Back
Could it be the start of something special? Come back to me in February and ask me that question again. For now it is bringing back great memories of great 49ers victories in the playoffs. What we witnessed this past Saturday was one of a kind. The Niners defense was doing exactly what they needed to do early in the game and that was cause Saints QB Drew Brees to turnover the ball. The Saints ended up turning the ball over 5 times in the game. But as with any great offense they couldn't be kept quiet for an entire game. The Saints were still in the game going right into the 4th quarter when RB Darren Sproles and TE Jimmy Graham began to show their worth in the Saints passing attack. Yet the 49ers weren't going to go down without a fight of their own. They answered both of the Saints go ahead touchdowns in the 4th quarter with touchdowns of their own. QB Alex Smith and TE Vernon Davis have been through some tough times in San Francisco. Both of them together showed that they belong in the conversation in these playoffs with their fantastic playoff performances. Time will tell if they will be competing for a Super Bowl, but for now they are on top of the world.
The Patriots have returned
Now I didn't predict a blowout in New England. But I didn't expect a dominant performance from the Patriots on both sides of the field. QB Tom Brady tied a playoff record with his 6 touchdown passes against Denver. And the Patriots defense actually looked like they weren't the worst defense in the NFL. Even the Patriots backup TE Aaron Hernandez was able to run the ball for over 60 yards in that game. That's how one sided that game was. Of course this was a statement game for Tom Brady and at the same time for TE Rob Gronkowski. He had a record setting season for his position and he is still considered an afterthought in this offense. Amazing. Like with the New Orleans Saints, the Patriots still don't run the ball enough for me to begin to think they can win the whole enchilada. But if they can do just enough on defense to help lesson the load for their offense they will be in a perfect position to win another Super Bowl.
Home Sweet Home
It's hard to believe that the Baltimore Ravens haven't hosted a playoff game since 2006, but it's true. They were ready and raring to go right from the start. But they were exposed at the end of the 1st quarter. After they were up 17-3 on the Houston Texans, that's when they became complacent. The one thing you don't want to do when you're up early in a playoff game. Houston got a big performance from their running back Arian Foster with his 132 yard rushing performance. Baltimore did just enough on defense to keep the Texans from scoring no more than 13 points, but you'd have to think that if Texans QB T.J. Yates had not turned the ball over 3 times, Houston would be moving on. Either way the Ravens were at home and it was hard to imagine seeing them lose a home game for the first time this season. Now they have to win a road playoff game if they want to return to the Super Bowl. It's not out of the question for them to do it, but they must avoid complacency if they get an early lead again.
I've seen this before
I know, this does look familiar. It's not exactly like the 2007 New York Giants team. That team had to play on the road for the entire playoffs. This team did host a Wild Card game. Now for the longest time we thought that no one could beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. Now it seems that the only team that can beat them is the New York Giants. Crazy stat time. Since 1993 the Green Bay Packers have only lost 4 times at home in the playoffs. The Giants have defeated them twice now. And it wasn't even close from the start. Now the Giants weren't able to establish the running game for most of the game, but they were able to get the big plays. Example, the hail mary TD pass by QB Eli Manning to WR Hakeem Nicks to end the first half. That was the game right there. Green Bay was dumb founded to think that they would try it instead of going for a field goal. That's why there were only two defenders for Green Bay in the endzone to cover three Giants wide receivers. These aren't the same New York Giants, but they are playing great football when it matters most. Lets see how the rest of this plays out.